Nancy Snyderman and the NAA

7 Jul

Nancy Snyderman is a TV Doctor (for the Today Show apparently) who recently got the collective knickers of the mercury militia in a twist when she told her audience the truth about the vaccine/autism connection – that there isn’t one. What particularly galled them was being confronted with the truth of their own behaviour. When asked what she thought the motivating factor was for parents to be taking vaccine makers to court she replied with one word: ‘money’.

Several anti vaccine/autism groups published a group response, which you can find on the home page of our old friends and routine liars, the National Autism Association.

Let’s go through the main points of the letter.

Dr. Snyderman’s ties to Johnson & Johnson, defendants in vaccine injury litigation, are obviously dictating the agenda in her appearances on your network at the risk of the safety of our children.

Right. So is it OK to pay people or not? Or is it only OK if you’re the parent group of autistic kids? As I talked about recently, its clear that both the NAA and SafeMinds have financial interests of their own that need explaining. Either its bad for everyone to do it, or no one. Which is it?

NBC’s viewers were exposed to a blatant falsehood yesterday as Dr. Snyderman claimed that vaccines no longer contain mercury. This is not the case, and this misinformation has unfortunately given America’s parents a false sense of security that vaccines are now mercury-free. This false claim puts all of America’s children and the unborn at risk of great harm.

Before I start, I want to say I’m referencing the audio Bob Krakow of A-CHAMP helpfully provides.

In respect of the above quote, Snyderman says:

(thiomersal)…was taken out years ago and yet the rates of autism have increased….

So, NAA et al say this is a blatant falsehood and….

Mercury is still in most flu, tetanus, and diphtheria/tetanus vaccines–and an array of vaccines still contain “trace” amounts. (The term “trace” must be used loosely as this aspect of vaccine production is not being regulated and there is some variation on what constitutes a trace amount. As children often receive multiple “trace” amounts of mercury in one sitting, cumulative amounts and potential adverse effects are as yet unknown.)

This is a blatant falsehood. Thiomersal is _not_ in ‘most flu, tetanus and diptheria/tetanus vaccines’. It exists in one brand (out of three) of DTaP at a trace amount. The NAA and other alarmists may be interested in a blog post I made quite awhile ago about ‘trace’ amounts of ingredients. In it, I discuss how my bottled water has to list all ingredients including fat which exists at ‘trace’ levels.

In other words, the chances of you being overdosed on thiomersal from these vaccines are about the same as you getting fat from drinking spring water. Further, Snyderman is correct. There is no thiomersal _in_ these vaccines (which is what she was asked). These trace amounts occur from the use of thiomersal in the manufacturing process. Its extremely likely that there really is _no_ thiomersal in this one vaccine.

Now, Snyderman was asked about childhood vaccines in the context of the omnibus hearings. Here’s the anchor:

…as a result of getting vaccines when their children were babies….

So Snyderman’s answer of ‘none’ is absolutely correct. Flu vaccines, some of which still have thiomersal _in_ them are not specific to children and are not given to babies as part of the schedule.

As a physician representing NBC, Dr. Snyderman has failed to tell the truth about mercury-containing vaccines and the known dangers associated with them. There is simply no excuse for such careless and false reporting while this country is in the throes of a childhood epidemic of neurological disorders.

Woah…..neurological disorders again? Not autism? This is bullshit intended to allow one to say whatever they want. Hey – National *Autism* Association – how about sticking to autism. Is it because you are well aware that there is in fact no epidemic of autism? We all know what you think about that. You slandered the author of a study who performed science that disagreed with you and set your pack of parent harpies on him right? This was the result:

After Mr. Shattuck’s paper last year, he received “a half-dozen phone messages on my answering machine that were either vaguely or specifically physically threatening,” he said.

One person said, “Don’t be surprised if you get a knock on your door in the middle of the night and I’ll be there.” Another message said it was easy in the age of the Internet to find out where people live.

Anyway, back to the National Autism Association et al. the next part of their letter states:

During Monday’s NBC Nightly News Dr. Snyderman stated, “there really is no science” behind the autism/mercury link. Vaccines and the mercury-based preservative thimerosal have not been ruled out as a cause of autism. To the contrary, there are literally thousands of scientific, peer-reviewed studies supporting the extreme neurotoxicity of mercury and the relationship between mercury exposure and neurological injury

Hey look! There’s that ‘neurological injury’ thing again. What happened to _autism_ ? You are attacking Snyderman for answering a question that you don’t even tackle in your response. She was asked about _autism_ . Her answer was also totally correct. There _is_ no science behind the autism/vaccine belief system. Your response that there are thousands of peer reviewed articles about the toxicity of mercury and the link to neurological injury is utterly irrelevant and nothing more than a very transparent strawman.

In her most recent NBC appearance, Dr. Snyderman was asked why parents were filing claims on behalf of their vaccine-injured children, to which she answered matter-of-factly, “money.” This cavalier statement alone goes far beyond contempt and displays an appalling ignorance of the emotional and financial devastation faced by families of vaccine-injured children. This must be addressed by an immediate apology from NBC to all the parents of children suffering from vaccine-induced illnesses.

I urge Dr Snyderman _not_ to apologise or retract her statement as it 100% correct. It is the only possible outcome from these hearings. If they win, the petitioners get money. That’s why the court was set up. Its a ‘no fault’ system. Do you need it explaining again?

We urge you to speak with the growing number of scientists who have published research supporting a causal link between mercury in vaccines and neurodevelopmental disorders, and can provide you contact information for these researchers.

No one needs to do that. The science should speak for itself. If thiomersal causes autism, the peer reviewed literature will show that. Guess what? It doesn’t. Peer review does not include quack journals like Medical Veritas or JPANDS.

Reporting false information is a disservice to the American people.

I find it absolutely unbelievable that this statement is on the NAA website, the source for the false information about Paul Shattuck that led to his being hounded and threatened.

There is a choice selection of the more extreme antivax groups and individuals who are cosigners of this letter (although no SafeMinds I note – wonder why…).

These groups need to start looking at their behaviour. It is appalling. They have already led one researcher to being threatened over his phone because his _science_ didn’t agree with their _beliefs_ – what will happen to Nancy Snyderman? Maybe here is a telling sign. I got this from (you guessed it) the Evidence of Harm Yahoo group:

From: andrea52521991
Date: Apr 5, 2007 3:20 PM
Subject: [EOHarm] Re: Oprah, Autism Speaks, etc…
To: EOHarm@yahoogroups.com

……..

I’d like to meet Dr.Nancy Snyderman in a dark alley someday and shove a 100 HPV vaccines right up her smug ass!

………

The truth is that these groups have an ugly, ugly problem with violence and an unhealthy fixation on committing acts of violence towards people who don’t agree with them. They have recently introduced what seems to be a new policy of referring to ‘neurological disorders’ when responding to points about ‘autism’ and need to have a long, hard look at both the accuracy of their public statements and their methods of what seem to be little more than inciting violence towards people they don’t like.

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14 Responses to “Nancy Snyderman and the NAA”

  1. Shinga July 7, 2007 at 10:35 #

    Reading this piece, I could see little dancing gifs of the sort used by the brothers Hoofnagle to indicate moving goal-posts, the crank, cherry-picking etc. Perhaps the only gif they are missing is one to convey the violent threats that the mercury malicia et al. deliver when the strength of their passions overwhelm them.

  2. livsparents July 7, 2007 at 13:35 #

    Leave it to SafeMinds to obfuscate the Snyderman issue with their single-minded and inflamatory statements. My personal problem was Snyderman’s apparent audacity at implying that the parents are just trying to MAKE money off of their child’s autism. I thought about that a lot yesterday after filling out the 110 dollar check to the OT session my daughter had and the 1 1/2 hours we could have been playing in a park instead.

    I’m not saying the parents are right in their autism/thimeresol connection, but IF it were a connection, autism is a financial devestation that cannot be waved off as a desire for riches. Again, not arguing the connection, just taking Snyderman to task for her apparently filppant comments…and lamenting the continual ‘Trigger bashing’ that SafeMinds will continue long after the Omnibus is decided against them.
    Bill

  3. Callista July 7, 2007 at 14:11 #

    At this point, aren’t you going after an ant with a sledgehammer? I mean, the whole vaccine thing is so obviously, transparently false that anybody who still believes it either just has to be informed, or will believe it no matter what information they’re given.

    BTW: I was vaccinated, my 11-year-old sister wasn’t. We’re both Aspies. Small sample size, yes; but it certainly gave me reason to doubt the vaccine theory (which my mom holds to)… A bit more research showed me exactly how desperate and unproven it was.

  4. isles July 7, 2007 at 14:29 #

    I think that when NAA said there is still thimerosal in tetanus and DT vaccines, they’re talking about the booster shots, not the DTaP. It’s completely disingenuous for them to cite these as a potential cause of autism, because they’re not for children. I suppose a few kids might have received them before DTP became DTaP and there might have been concerns about reactions to the whole-cell pertussis component for those kids, but that was years ago. And now, the Tdap booster has made TT and DT obsolete anyway.

    As for influenza vaccines, for the last two seasons, iirc, *all* flu vaccines aimed at the three-and-under set have been zero- or trace-thimerosal. It is possible for a child in this age group to get a half-dose of an adult flu shot, but that’s not the preferred method. There are pediatric-specific formulations and I would be surprised if very many kids were getting anything else.

    And, wtf? Snyderman is supposed to be biased because she “works for” (which is a stretch) J&J? I didn’t think they even made vaccines.

    You would think people would catch on after a while that NAA can’t open their mouths without lies coming out. But I guess the ones who are inclined to listen to them aren’t too sharp with the critical thinking skills.

  5. Callista July 7, 2007 at 14:56 #

    Totally off-topic:

    I’m wondering what it takes to get your blog listed on Autism Hub. I’d like to get more responses to my ideas, and it seems like that’d be a good way to get the dialogue started. I’m an Aspie female; a lot of my posts are on autism, though there’s general psychology, phillosophy, and a bit of gamer geekery in there, too. The blog’s been established for about… hmm, nine months, now? About 100 posts, anyway, and most of them essay-length. Let me know if you have info.

  6. Bink July 7, 2007 at 15:29 #

    The NAA spreads its version of reality in many ways. A few months ago my local ASA chapter was informed that it “had been selected” to “be awarded” a bunch of new items for its library. How exciting, right? Riiigghhht. The NAA gave the chapter about a kazillion DVDs of presentations made during a 2005 DAN conference. All the (ridiculous, inflammatory) titles were listed in the ASA newsletter. Any newbie who reads the newsletter or goes to the ASA library trying to get information on autism will get the NAA’s point of view.

  7. Jeanette July 7, 2007 at 19:51 #

    Hi Kev,
    The anti-vaccine groups were doing their typical “witch-hunt” when they sent around a form letter to get the resignation of Dr. Snyderman. It happens every time they are “upset” by what they don’t like to hear.
    Even after the verdict is read and the cases are dropped, these parent’s and their enticers will still be spewing the same nonsense.
    It is getting really boring and they are running out of things to do.
    Hope your doing well.
    Jeanette

  8. Matt July 7, 2007 at 22:14 #

    Hey Kev,

    It’s too bad these people can’t get as organized fighting real battles as these windmills. It seems to be about appearances rather than action. Ask the same people, “who is your representative in government” and you will likely get blank stares. Ask them what Oprah’s opinion is and you can fill a thread on any board.

    Matt

  9. Delzars July 8, 2007 at 08:54 #

    I just stumbled onto this page by accident. I have a nephew with Autism. I can understand where the desperation and anger for parents with Autistic children comes from? But, what about you folks? Who besides vaccine makers and Thimerosol salesmen get so worked up for the “pro mercury” side? Are you guys really advocating a “Thimerosol is great” position or do you have nothing better to do with your time? I am completely uninformed on the whole Autism/Thimerosol debate, I just find it weird there is such furor on the other side? What am I missing?

  10. Kev July 8, 2007 at 11:05 #

    Hi Delzars,

    Nobody is saying ‘thiomersal is great’. What we’re saying (or at least, I am) is that what serves autistic people best in terms of negating stigma and relieving ignorance is not bad science and lies.

    You should also know that I am also parent to an autistic child. My anger and desperation is about people taking money away from decent research and education with a continued push on chasing quackery.

  11. Lucas McCarty July 8, 2007 at 12:13 #

    I wouldn’t say ‘Thimerosal is great’ but I wouldn’t exactly describe it as toxic waste either. I support its removal from vaccines mainly to put yet another cork into anti-vaccine scare-mongering, but only if an alternative preservative can be used: preservatives save lives by making bulk-buying them cost-effective so they can be used in the third world.

    The pros and cons should be accurately represented. But so too should Autism because how it is described and represented has an effect on Autistic people. Saying we’re poisoned dismisses a lot of valuable things about us, so if such a claim is made it should have very good evidence to support it. But it doesn’t.

  12. HN July 8, 2007 at 17:04 #

    Hi Delzars,

    The other factor in those of us who oppose the “anti-vaccine” folks are us parents with health impaired kids. Some of us have kids who MUST depend on herd immunity because they cannot get the vaccine, and would suffer more if they got the actual disease.

    For example, my oldest son had seizures as a newborn. Because of those seizures he has never ever been vaccinated against pertussis. At that time our county was having a pertussis epidemic, so we had to be very careful who he came into contact with. This was at the same time there was an upsurge of measles in the USA, and over 120 real people died (between 1989 and 1990).

    And of course, if you read this blog you will realize that there are folks blaming the MMR for all sorts of ills. The MMR has never contained thimerosal, and was approved in the USA in 1971, but introduced into the UK in 1988 (oh, the year my oldest was born). The controversy in the UK started when a lawyer paid a researcher (Wakefield) to come up with specific results to support a lawsuit.

    To get more perspective check out:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article1055533.ece

    and

    http://pkids.org/

  13. Bink July 8, 2007 at 18:27 #

    I also wanted to let Delzars know that I have an autistic child. I’m not sure where you get the idea that there is a “pro mercury” side. I’m on the “anti-quacks who get rich experimenting on helpless children” side, myself. Please continue to research this. You sound intelligent and I’m sure you will understand more the more you read. The best to your nephew.

  14. anonimouse July 9, 2007 at 04:11 #

    I know that the mercury freaks don’t like to hear it, but I’d suggest that a large portion of those in the Omnibus are in it for the money. That doesn’t mean they’re callously swindling the government (although that’s a possibility in some cases) but they’ve rather been brainwashed by these pathetic anti-vax groups into thinking their kids were poisoned and they want the government to do something about it.

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